We’ve been getting requests from readers for more strategies to prevent getting fired. Here are four more to keep in your back pocket.
You should build up a unique set of skills and take ultra-specific training courses so that no current employee can do your job as well as you can and the organization would have to hire someone new. Stay in the spotlight – in a good way – so that your absence would be glaringly obvious. While they still aren't indispensable, highly visible, highly specialized employees are much more trouble to replace.
If you’ve gotten in hot water with your boss or HR for inappropriate behavior, you might still save your job provided you stop the behavior right away and sincerely apologize to all involved. You might, for example, say something like: “I know I really screwed up. I want you to know that I’ve learned a lot from this experience, and I promise that nothing like it will ever happen again.” Be honest with yourself. Have you done something that has made you unpopular around the office, even if it’s as harmless as a gossip session gone bad? You’ll need to turn things around quickly as possible.
Go out of your way to help your co-workers with their projects. Arrange to have the whole department sign a card for the assistant who has been out sick. Organize Friday Happy Hour and pay for the first round of drinks. Being the employee that everyone likes will make you less vulnerable.
Speaking of being liked, things get a little dicey when you haven’t done anything wrong, but for whatever reason your boss has a negative perception of you or your work. His dislike may be unwarranted – maybe you look like the neighbor with whom he has a bitter relationship, or semi-warranted – maybe he recognizes your talent and is worried you’ll end up with his job. Regardless, if you live in an at-will state, your boss doesn’t officially need a reason to fire you and can do so with minimal justification, simply because he doesn’t like you.
In the event that you enjoy your job and want to keep it, you will have to confront your boss. Swallow your pride and be prepared to be the bigger man or woman, unfair as the situation may be. Set up a meeting and say something like: “I’m concerned that I’m not meeting your expectations. What can I do to improve things? If her problem with you is truly personal, you may shock her into making it less obvious.
If she defends herself by calling out your performance, calmly ask her for examples by saying: “Thanks for the feedback. Would you mind sharing some specific instances so that I can start moving in the right direction?” Pay close attention to any documentation that is supplied. This is a good way to assess the case she is building against you. Hopefully, this meeting will result in some type of resolution, which you should re-count via e-mail for paper trail purposes.